Futile nuclear negotiation leads the Biden administration to gauge tightening sanctions on Iran, the U.S. State Department said on Thursday, Dec. 9.

Washington is looking to target the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which has played a key role in financing Iran despite being an ally with the U.S. It is the second-ranking trade partner of Iran.

Reuters reported that a senior delegation has been assigned to arrive in the UAE next week. Banks would be warned of the consequences of continuing business with Iran despite the U.S.’s sanctions.

Andrea Gacki, head of the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, would join the delegation.

A State Department official said the U.S. has proof of non-compliance, and the banks could be sanctioned or penalized as a result of their dealings. The Wall Street Journal alleged Emirati could be among those targeted.

The hardened attitude from Washington came as the prospects for resuming the 2015 nuclear deal appeared inauspicious. Iran continues to decline direct negotiation with the U.S.

After last week’s talk, Western diplomats said Iran ambitiously required scrapping the sanctions imposed by the Trump administration while remaining ambiguous about its commitment to uphold the terms of the deal.

In 2018, former President Donald Trump abandoned the nuclear deal and sanctioned Iran. According to Reuters, the country promised to prune its nuclear program for alleviation but was found walking back on its words a year later.

The UAE agreed to cooperate with the sanctions introduced three years ago. But uncertainty was looming as it tried to strengthen ties with Iran in dealing with regional issues. 

On Monday, Dec. 6, its security official paid an uncommon visit to Iran to discuss cooperation, with Tehran saying “economic, trade and investment ties” were its main priorities.

Meanwhile, talks of the reinstatement of the nuclear deal had been resumed on Thursday in Vienna. Reuters reported from a senior U.S. official that Washington would consider potentially eliminating Iran’s nuclear facilities if diplomatic efforts failed. 

The WSJ reported that the U.S. may also increase economic pressure on Iran by sending delegations to other countries if there is no breakthrough.

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